The jail sentence handed down to a Luton mother who promoted terrorism on Facebook was “too harsh”, according to an Islamic leader.
Mother of six Runa Khan, of Maple Road West, was sentenced to five years and three months last week after revealing her radical views on the social network, encouraging fellow Muslim women to urge their male relatives to fight in Syria and posting a picture of a suicide vest.
She also praised an article giving tips on how to prepare young children for jihad and unwittingly passed a route to Syria to an undercover police officer.
When she was arrested police found a photo of her two-year-old son with a toy assault rifle and a jihadist book on her phone, as well as images of her and her older children holding a sword.
The 35-year-old admitted four charges of disseminating terrorist publications and was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Thursday.
Qadeer Baksh, chair of the Luton Islamic Centre, has questioned the sentence handed down to Khan.
He told the Luton News: “What she did was wrong but I believe the punishment was too harsh, these sorts of crimes should not be met with custodial sentences.
“They should being given help by being put on a course to improve their mindset.
“My belief is that these people are under alot of confusion about the religion and end up making emotional choices.
“On the one hand this sentencing will send a message to those thinking of promoting this material but on the other hand it will harden some resentments towards the government.”
Sentencing Khan, Judge Peter Birts QC described her as an “avowed fundamentalist Islamist holding radical and extreme beliefs”.
He said: “You hold to an ideology which espouses jihad as an essential part of the Islamist obligation.
“I sentence you not for your beliefs, abhorrent though they are to all civilised people, but for your actions in disseminating terrorist material with the clear intention of radicalising others.”
Qadeer Baksh countered that the sentencing did not address the “root problem”.
He said: “This sentence is based on the fear of what future will bring, not what needs to rectified now.
“These people need religious and psychological help.
“There are alot of people with these extremist views online who are gratifying and even supporting ISIS.
“They are not being picked up on by anybody, why has this woman been singled out?”